A/N: The final part to the Trope #2 trilogy. Felicity still had some demons she needed to deal with. Trope 2 and Trope 2.5 can be found under the 'Tropes' title.
Hope you enjoy, and please let me know what you think!
It had been two weeks since the incident at the club. Felicity's injuries had healed, the bruises faded, and the cuts vanished, but she still felt the presence of that night hanging over her even if her attacker was gone.
Oliver and Digg had been especially vigilant. She always had a ready escort to the car or to her door. She hadn't driven herself to work in so long she'd given up on caring what anyone thought about her arriving with Oliver's driver each morning.
Whatever shift had occurred between her and Oliver was progressing slowly. Other than one rather heated make out session after an especially harrowing mission he'd restrained himself to sweet kisses at the end of the night but nothing more. Making certain to tell her goodbye before she could invite him in.
Quite frankly it was driving her crazy.
The one thing that she hadn't been able to get past was going back onto the floor of Verdant. She'd purposely avoided entering through the club, even when it wasn't open and had opted for the back entrance instead.
The one time Digg tried to drop her off out front she'd panicked and knocked her bag to the floor causing everything to spill out. With a sigh of relief she'd told him to go ahead and pull around back while she collected her things. The look he gave her as she got out let her know he knew exactly what had happened. But he never tried to drop her off out front again.
That night Oliver had been held up with a dinner meeting he couldn't avoid but she'd asked Digg to drop her off at the lair first so she could do some work in silence which rarely happened. She'd dropped a quick kiss to Oliver's mouth before she'd exited the car and told him to have fun. That earned her an eye roll that had her smiling all the way down the stairs and to her computers.
Felicity had been so distracted it took her text alert going off twice a couple hours later to see the message from Oliver that said the investors were talkers and drinkers and he didn't see himself getting away anytime soon.
Now knowing she had all night she started a new set of upgrades she'd been putting off. She seriously considered calling it an early night and catching a cab when her phone rang, showing a call from Thea who she knew to be right upstairs.
She answered it on the third ring and could hear the din of the club on the other end.
"Oh my god, Felicity you have to save me," she sounded breathless, and before Felicity could respond she continued, "The registers are down. They're not reading any credit cards and I know it has something to do with a server and a satellite relay and I did the three step troubleshooting thing that's on the sticker but...it didn't work and people are getting pissed I'm asking them for cash and...please tell me you can come take a look. The company that made the registers can't get a guy out until tomorrow and that's too late."
Once she had paused for air Felicity was finally able to speak, "Of course, I'm actually almost there now, Oliver had wanted me to stop by and drop something off in the office for him," her lies had become more and more easy and she didn't know if that was a good thing or not.
"Oh, you're a goddess and far too good for my brother, thank you thank you!"
It wasn't until she'd hung up that Felicity felt a cold wave of fear wash over her. She'd have to go up to the club. By herself.
The next ten minutes were the longest she'd ever experienced. She paced a track from one computer desk to the other, hands wringing in front of her as she tried to calm her racing heart. As she paced she gave herself a mental pep talk. She was just going to be behind the bar. She wasn't going near the dance floor. Thea and the other staff would be around her at all times. She'd be fine.
When enough time had passed to make it seem like she hadn't been twenty feet beneath Thea's feet the entire time she took a deep breath and headed up the stairs.
She was trembling by the time she got to the top and emerged into the suddenly loud club. Eyes fixed on the floor she made her way as quick as she could to the bar, grateful to see Roy already behind it mixing drinks.
"Hey! Good to see you, Thea's about to have kittens," he said easily, but she could hear the strain in his voice and noticed the way he didn't look at her too long. She hadn't seen him since that night and suddenly things were awkward.
For a second she thought about running. The lair was safe, there was no one down there who could hurt her and if she made one phone call or text Oliver or Digg would be there in a matter of minutes.
But before she could turn there was a quick hand on her arm that made her start to the side but Thea paid her no mind, "You're here! You're a lifesaver! Here…" she dragged her down to the far register, "This is the main one, the guy that installed it said the others ran off of this so…work your magic? Free drinks for life and my undying love and gratitude."
For the next ten minutes she did her best to block out the noise of the club and the flashing lights and concentrate on her work. She felt shaky and her heart beat fluctuated in her chest sporadically, there was also a ball of acid in her stomach that continued to grow, but she was able to get the panel off the front of the register and access the area she needed to look at.
She didn't know why she looked up, but when she did there was a man right next to her that she'd never seen before. For a moment she froze and blind panic almost overtook her. Logically she knew he was another one of the bartenders, but his sleeve was brushing her arm and when he looked down and noticed her his smile was too wide, teeth too white. In a flash she was seeing her attacker and she didn't know what to do.
Then Roy was there, "Hey man, those girls at the end asked for you, they're doing tequila shots like it's their job."
Roy waited until the stranger was gone before he leaned down to see her face, "You okay? Sorry, you looked like you were about to run or maybe puke..."
Felicity took in a great gasping breath of air and turned from him slightly as she tried to get her bearings back, "Yeah, I...he just surprised me, that's all."
Roy shuffled his feet and looked out into the crowd as she tried to get her hands to stop trembling. "You really okay though, after...I still feel bad about that night and…"
Surprisingly, hearing him sound so regretful and affected settled her down some, "I'm...yeah, it's just...this is the first time I've been up here since and it's-It's just hard, that's all,"
He nodded, "Yeah, I thought it might be something like that. I'll stick close then...I mean, if you want." he added hastily and she felt her lips turn up in a smile,
"Thanks, that would be good."
Surprisingly she was able to focus after that. She fell into a zone, discovered the problem, and was certain she'd fixed it. Once she'd secured the panel back into it's proper home she turned to see Roy right where he said he would be.
"Fixed?" he asked, hopeful as his eyebrow raised into his hairline,
"I think so, just need to push the reset switch. Which should be on the auxiliary access panel." at his blank look she slowed her words, "And you don't have any idea where it is or what I'm talking about..."
Roy just gave her a loose shrug of one shoulder as he dried glasses and replaced them on the racks.
She let out a sigh and held her hands out, "White rectangular box about this long, has the same logo as the registers, probably near other access panels if the installation guy had half a brain…"
His eyes sparked, "Yeah, I think they're all down the hallway near the bathrooms,"
It took a beat for both of them to realize what he'd just said. She must have paled, or had some look on her face she hadn't been able to hide because the next thing she knew the sounds of the D.J were drowned out by the rush of blood to her head and Roy was hastily moving to empty his hands as he stepped towards her.
Arms still outstretched like he was worried she was going to collapse he lowered his head and looked at her in concern, "Sorry. I didn't...I can go over and check it. Just tell me what to do."
With her hands clenched together in front of her she swallowed heavily multiple times and took long deep breaths in an attempt to tramp down the panic attack she felt rising in her chest. Her eyes flicked repeatedly to the stretch of dance floor she'd have to cross over to the darkened entrance to the hallway.
It was only forty or fifty feet and she'd be able to skirt the edge of the floor, staying close to the tables and be on the opposite side of the room from the stage and the majority of the clubgoers, but just then it looked like she was expected to cross a field of battle.
Palms sweaty, heart racing, she licked suddenly dry lips and tried to get the metallic taste out of her mouth.
"Really, you don't have to. It's just pushing a button, right? I'm good at that." Roy's eager, worried voice broke through and she brought her gaze back to him with a jolt.
"No!" she said suddenly, harsher than she had intended, "Sorry, I didn't mean…" she shook her head in apology and squeezed her fingers tighter, "I...it's behind the panel, it has to be shut down properly and then reset and…"
His brows drew together even further as he blew out a long breath, "Okay, I get it, it's a little more technical than jacking a car. You want some company at least?" he was trying to not directly address the elephant in the room and she appreciated his attempt at tact, but she knew this was something she had to do on her own.
Very deliberately she made her hands relax and wiped her palms across her skirt, "No, I'll be fine," she grabbed the small tool kit she'd been using and made to step around Roy before she could change her mind.
His hand twitched and she thought for a second he was going to grab her arm but he pulled back. He cast an almost frantic look around the club, first to the front door, then to the back where the locked entrance to the lair was, and she assumed he was looking for Thea. "You don't have to do this alone, or you know, maybe you could just wait?"
The sincerity she heard in his voice took her back and she couldn't help the small uptick of her lips as she stared at him, "I'll be fine," she repeated, although she knew she didn't sound as strong as she wanted to. "And it can't wait, Thea needs these working before the end of the night, right? To close out the tabs?"
He gave a resigned nod, once again looking around the club as if he was searching for someone in particular.
Before she could second guess her decision or let Roy talk her out of it she gave him a tightlipped smile and took a deep breath before she set her sights on the hallway and tried not to think about that night.
Her knees were so wobbly she didn't think she'd make it three steps, but somehow she stayed upright even though her feet were numb and she was certain she was aware of nothing but making it to her destination as quickly as possible.
She was so focused she didn't hear the song change. A group of women at one of the tables she was passing suddenly shrieked in excitement and sat their glasses down, grabbing the hands of their dates as they headed back onto the floor.
If she'd been paying attention she would have seen that their paths would cross and could have slowed her pace. But she hadn't been paying attention and the next thing she knew she was clipped in the shoulder and half spun to her right. A strong hand caught her by the wrist and waist to steady her and when she looked down all she saw was an unfamiliar hand on her arm.
Cold, blind panic made her freeze in place. Not again. It couldn't be happening again.
Then the hand was slipping off of her like it had never been there and she raised her eyes to see a man smiling at her drunkenly, "Sorry, Barbie!" he called before he was pulled away, not sparing her a second glance.
The word 'Barbie' made her sway. He'd said that. The man who attacked her had called her that. In an instant she was transported back to that night with all the same terror and fear she'd felt then.
Hands caught her again, one wrapping around her back, the other gripping her forearm and with a startled jolt she tried to pull away and found she couldn't. Her limbs wouldn't listen, too heavy and unresponsive for her to move.
"Whoa, Felicity, stay with me, okay?" she knew that voice, and with great difficulty she lifted her head and saw Roy. All the air left her lungs as if she'd been holding her breath and she sagged against him.
"Come on, you need to get out of here, the damn registers can wait," he was moving them closer to the edge of the room but she couldn't seem to move her eyes from his face.
They hadn't gone two steps when she felt her shoulder hit another body, causing her to let out a scared yell before she heard a familiar booming voice over the too loud music.
"What the hell is going on?" Oliver bellowed, arms already coming out to take her from Roy who slid away from her quickly,
"Where you been, boss? I texted you like half an hour ago." Roy's tone was accusatory and she felt like she was two steps behind whatever was going on,
"Traffic," Oliver bit out as his hand cupped her face and directed her chin up to look at him, "What happened? Why are you up here?" he asked, voice gentler with her, but still strained,
With Oliver in front of her she could feel her heart rate starting to slow from the mad tattoo it had been beating against her ribs but her mouth opened and shut with nothing coming out.
Roy ran a hand across the back of his neck and sheepishly explained how Thea had asked her to come by, and how she'd fixed the register and needed to access the panel down the hallway.
Oliver swore under his breath and muttered something about talking to his sister.
"Come on, I'll take you home," he said as his thumb stroked her cheek and she couldn't help the way her eyes fell shut at the contact,
When she felt him tuck her under his arm her eyes flew open and she braced her feet, pulling back as far as she could, "No! I need to-"
"No you don't," he turned towards her, brows furrowed, "Thea can call the proper people and handle it on her own,"
"Oliver! It will only take a few minutes," now that the initial shock was starting to abate she remembered why she'd been so determined to come up to the club and face her fears. She needed to see this through to the end.
"Felicity-" he began and she set her jaw,
"I need to do this," she purposely stepped away from him as she put the full weight of her stress, and her terror, and the helplessness she'd felt that night into her words. When he scrubbed both hands over his face she knew he understood,
"Okay," he said slowly, "But I'm going with you,"
She let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding and reached out blindly to grab his hand, "Good,"
The entrance to the hallway seemed to gape open like a giant mouth that was determined to swallow her whole. With her shoulders braced she squeezed Oliver's hand and walked through, eyes looking nowhere else but at the grouping of panels and boxes past the bathrooms.
Luckily they weren't located in the same small alcove where she'd been shoved into the wall. That she didn't think she'd have been able to handle.
Flashes of memory came without her consent as they walked. She remembered trying to drag her feet, she remembered rough hands tearing her blouse, she remembered the way his knee had shoved harshly between her legs.
Oliver's breath on her cheek as he leaned down to speak to her made her jump, one hand coming up to cover her heaving chest.
"You don't have to do this. We can turn around and leave,"
Unable to talk she just twisted her hand until they were palm to palm, fingers entwined and kept her steady march towards the panels.
When she found the box she needed she blew out a long breath and pointed to it unnecessarily, "This is it. Shouldn't take long. At least I don't have to cut the power to the entire building." she said with a forced laugh, "Thea probably wouldn't appreciate that. But this is a simple fix. Just have to pop off that cover and-"
Oliver's warm hand covered hers and took the tool kit from her, opening it easily. She hadn't even realized she'd been struggling to undo the small clasp.
With Oliver on one side of her, and Roy on the other holding a flashlight she set to work. Whether on purpose or not they provided her with a small circle of safety. She couldn't see anything of the hallway past them and because of that it took her no time to do what she needed to do.
A quick slide and the panel was back in place and she turned a broad smile on both of them, "See, easy, like I said. Registers should be rebooting as we speak and ready to go."
"Then lets get out of here," Oliver stated and she could still see the tension he held in his jaw. "Roy, get Thea to take care of that."
Roy just nodded his agreement, and gave her one more smile before he disappeared back into the club.
"Come on," Oliver's hand closed around hers and he began to lead her out, keeping her so close in to his side that she kept finding herself almost stepping on his shoes.
When they reached the dance floor he used his body and size to keep a good two feet of clear space around them as they made their way to the access to downstairs.
Once the door was shut behind them she let out a long breath and felt her shoulders droop although she still felt shaky and scattered.
His hands on her waist and arm were firm but more gentle as he guided her down the steps. He didn't say a word as he grabbed her phone and tablet and slipped them into her bag. Her coat was slid up her arms silently and then he was leading her to the exit.
She opened her mouth to protest, her mind finally catching up to what he was doing but he gave her a look and she saw the way he asked her with her eyes to just please go with him.
Her fingers came out to catch his and he breathed, eyes falling shut for a long moment.
His arm wrapped around her back, tucking her into his side, protected, small, and suddenly an image of him doing the same thing to Thea when they exited the Courthouse months earlier shot through her mind.
Felicity stopped short, he was actually caught off guard, taking another step and a half before he realized she was no longer moving.
His quizzical expression held her gaze, mouth opening to question what she was doing.
"Stop it." she spat out, "Stop treating me with kid gloves."
He straightened, hand falling from her shoulder and if this wasn't so serious she'd find it almost comical to see him standing there holding her purse in one hand.
"I'm not Thea. I'm not a child. I don't need you to keep treating me like I'm going to break at any second. You barely kiss me, Oliver! You do everything to make sure we're not alone together. If you're only with me because of what happened, if this was some sort of guilt fueled thing that you now don't know how to back out of then please let me-"
She hadn't seen him move. One second she was speaking, saying words she hadn't even really let herself think before, and the next his mouth was on hers, devouring her.
The dull thud of her bag hitting the concrete echoed in her head but she didn't hear anything over the rush of blood to her head as Oliver drew her into his chest, his lips working over hers, tongue sweeping along hers as her stomach flipped and turned with repressed passion.
When he pulled back it was only far enough for her to draw breath, their mouths still brushing, "I'm with you because you're exactly who I need and who I want. Never doubt that."
"Then why are you keeping yourself away from me?" she asked almost desperately, hot tears flooding her eyes as he assuaged her biggest fears in one heartfelt declaration.
Strong hands gripped her tighter, pulling her even closer into his chest, "Because I didn't want to scare you." he practically growled making her heart clench as a hot rush of want went straight to her core, "I can't trust myself around you."
Heart pounding, lungs heaving she looked up into his darkened eyes and made a decision, "Then don't." she replied throatily, "I want all of you. You won't scare me."
And there wasn't any fear. Not when he struggled another few more seconds before breaking. Not when he lifted her by the waist and found the nearest vertical surface to press her against. Not when his hands pushed off the coat he'd just pulled on her, or when his mouth found her neck.
There was no trace of that night of terror. No memories of being attacked sneaking in as Oliver carefully unbuttoned her top. No flashbacks when she felt his hands stroke over her bare back.
There was only the two of them and a night a long time coming as he reminded her that she was stronger than she'd ever imagined and her greatest source of strength was in the way he looked at her. And she reminded him that his connection to the world was through the woman who grounded him to it.